The following questions beg to be asked of nurses as we enter a second year of hardships to the profession created by a global pandemic: What is the “spirit of nursing” and has that spirit diminished over the course of the past year? I do know that nursing students sometimes have a tough time identifying the “spirit of nursing” when asked to do so. Answers vary from “taking care of more than a body” to “working as a team” to “spirituality.”
I think we can ask first, what is the essence of the human spirit since nurses are human beings (superpower ones, but still human) and the care of patients involves the care of human beings? Most would say the human spirit is the sum total of what cannot be seen with the eyes that relates to human existence, the intellectual, the emotional, the psychosocial, and the uniqueness embedded and developed within each individual being, such as passion, interests, creativity, ways of being and doing. We know there will never be another someone just like us. We are unique beings, a one and only version. When a unique being connects with another unique being, a new and unique interaction and relationship develops, even if it is only in the moment, a brief period of time.
I appreciate the deep thoughts on this matter offered by well-known nursing leader, theorist, and author, Jean Watson, creator of the Theory of Human Caring (2011). Her work and writing on the concept of transcendence and transpersonal nursing captures the essence of this capacity of humans to offer intentional, meaningful interactions with others, and thereby create new and unique connections, with the potential for healing (Watson, 2002; Watson, 2013). Max Muller, 19th century German scholar, once wrote, “Would not the child’s heart break in despair when the first cold storm of the world sweeps over it, if the warm sunlight of love from the eyes of mother and father did not shine upon him like the soft reflection of divine light and love?” (Muller, 1889, p. 34). Is this not an example of a spirit-to-spirit connection, the kind of intentional, meaningful, potentially healing, transcendent connection referred to by Watson (2013)? It is in the giving of ourselves to those in need of our spirit, and our unique touch, which create those meaningful interactions.
Ottawa University’s RN to MSN online program offers two concentrations that address the core competencies for both Nurse Leaders and Nurse Educators.
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In the past year, making those intentional, meaningful, spirit-to-spirit interactions has cost countless nurses a great deal, even their own lives. They have selflessly offered that to bring healing to those in their care. In response to the question, has the Spirit of Nursing survived? Is it alive and well in September of 2021 in spite of the hardships, personal and professional sacrifices and losses of the last year? The answer is a resounding, “YES!” That Spirit of Nursing continues among the millions of spirit-to-spirit human interactions willingly offered by nurses who possess the true Spirit of Nursing. May this continue forever. Much is needed, much is required of that spirit in these times.
Ottawa University's exceptional nursing faculty bring real-world experience to courses and give students the career insights they need to be successful. The accelerated RN to MSN online program option is perfect for those who want to advance their nursing careers and make a difference in their communities. Now that you understand the importance of your calling, consider your future career opportunities with our accelerated, online Master of Science in Nursing degree!
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Muller, F. M. (1889). Memories: A story of German love. A.C. McClurg.
Watson Caring Science Institute and International Caritas Consortium (2013). Caring science. http://watsoncaringscience.org/about-us/caring- science-definitions-processes-theory/
Watson, J. (2011). Human caring science: A theory of nursing. Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Watson, J. (2002). Intentionality and caring-healing consciousness: A practice of transpersonal nursing. Holistic Nursing Practice, 16(4), 12–19.